Are there changes to the rules if my employer repays some of my student loans?
Yes. Some employers do this as an employee benefit. Between the date the bill is signed and the end of 2020, they can offer up to $5,250 of assistance without that money counting as part of the employee’s income. If the employer pays tuition for classes an employee is taking, that money will also count toward the $5,250.
Which retirement account rules would be suspended?
For the calendar year 2020, no one would have to take a required minimum distribution from any individual retirement accounts or workplace retirement savings plans, like a 401(k). That way, you aren’t forced to sell investments that may have fallen in value, which would lock in losses. If you don’t need the money now, you can let the investments sit and hope that they recover.
This change would not affect old-fashioned pensions.
What if I have to take money out of my I.R.A. or workplace retirement plan early?
You could withdraw up to $100,000 this year without the usual 10 percent penalty, as long as it’s because of the outbreak.
You would also be able to spread out any income taxes that you owe over three years from the date you took the distribution. And if you want, you could put the money back into the account before those three years are up, even though the rules may normally keep you from making a contribution that large.
This exception applies only to coronavirus-related withdrawals. You qualify if you tested positive, a spouse or dependent did or you experienced a variety of other negative economic consequences related to the pandemic. Employers could allow workers to self-certify that they are qualified to pull money from a workplace retirement account.
Can I still borrow from my 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan?
Yes, and you could take out twice the usual amount. For 180 days after the bill passes, with certification that you’ve been affected by the pandemic, you’d be able to take out a loan of up to $100,000. Usually you can’t take out more than half your balance, but that rule would be suspended.
If you already have a loan and were supposed to finish repaying it before Dec. 31, you’d get an extra year.
I want to help people who are suffering from the pandemic. Does the bill do anything about charitable donations?
Yes. The bill would make a new deduction available — and not just for 2020 — for up to $300 in annual charitable contributions. It’s only available to people who don’t itemize their deductions, and you calculate this new one by subtracting the amount you give from your gross income.
To qualify, you would have to give cash to a qualified charity and not to a donor-advised fund, which is a charitable account that affluent people often use to bunch contributions in a particular year in order to maximize deductions. If you’ve already given money since Jan. 1, that contribution counts toward the $300 cap.
Other Features of the Bill
Would there be damage to my credit report if I took advantage of any virus-related payment relief, including the student loan suspension?
No. There is not supposed to be, at least.
The bill states that during the period beginning on Jan. 31 and continuing 120 days after the cessation of the national emergency declaration, lenders and others should mark your credit file as current, even if you avail yourself of payment modifications.
If you had black marks in your file before the virus hit, those will remain unless you fix the issues during the emergency period.
Credit reporting agencies can make errors. Be sure to check your credit report a few times each year, especially if you accept any help from any financial institution or biller this year.
Is there any relief for renters in the bill?
Yes. The bill would put a temporary, nationwide eviction moratorium in place for any renters whose landlords have mortgages backed or owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other federal entities. This will last for 120 days after the bill passes, and landlords also can’t charge any fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent.
Would this bill change any rules for health savings accounts and health care flexible spending accounts?
Yes. Menstrual products are now eligible for reimbursement after at least 15 years of lobbying and debate.
Did the legislation make it illegal for any internet provider to cut off service to an individual or small business that can’t pay its bills?
Did the legislation make it illegal for utility providers to cut off service?
No.Tara Siegel Bernard covers personal finance. Before joining The Times in 2008, she was deputy managing editor at FiLife, a personal finance website, and an editor at CNBC. She also worked at Dow Jones and contributed regularly to The Wall Street Journal.